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Taoiseach must ensure Joint Report legally cast iron before moving to Phase 2 of Brexit talks – Mary Lou McDonald TD

14 December, 2017 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald today sought confirmation from the Tánaiste that the Taoiseach will seek additional assurances from the British government and EU Commission that the joint report is legally cast iron before allowing the Brexit talks move to Phase Two.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“The Taoiseach is attending the European Council Summit, a meeting that is crucial to Ireland’s economic, political and social future.

"When endorsing the joint report from the European Commission and the British government last Friday, the Taoiseach described that report as “cast-iron and rock solid.

“While acknowledging the positive language in the joint-report, Sinn Féin warned that it fell far short of what is needed to truly protect the national interest – north and south.

“We cautioned that the commitments were not legally binding and that your government needed to be very careful in its dealings with the Tory government.

“Over the days that followed, Sinn Fein’s caution was proven to be well founded. Britain’s Brexit Spokesperson David Davis described the joint-report as merely a ‘statement of intent’.

"Senior officials from the Department for Exiting the European Union at Westminster have already rowed back on the British commitments.

"They have claimed that ‘full alignment’ will only apply to six areas of north-south cooperation as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

“The looseness of the joint-report was further highlighted when, on Monday; the EU commission confirmed that the joint report is ‘not legally binding’ describing it as ‘a deal between gentleman’. This is hardly the language of rock solid and cast iron agreements.

“We are left with a set of contradictions.

"It is claimed that there will be no hard border in Ireland, but the fact is that Britain is leaving Customs Union and the Single Market and will drag the north of Ireland with them.

"There will be no diminution of rights, but Britain is leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.  There is no threat to the Good Friday agreement but we are facing the biggest social and political rupture to impact on our island in generations.

“So there is a huge square to be circled here and relatively little time in which to do it.

“When I met with cross-community sectoral groups in the north earlier this week they felt far from assured, clear or certain about their future. There is clarity only on one thing and that is nothing is cast-iron or rock solid.

“Will the Taoiseach seek additional assurances from the British Prime Minister and our EU partners before allowing the talks to move onto phase two and will these assurances be put in writing, published and be legally cast-iron and rock solid?”

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